The Faerie Queene

The Faerie Queene

by

Edmund Spenser

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The Faerie Queene: Two Cantos of Mutabilitie: Canto VI Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The first Canto of Mutabilitie, numbered Canto VI, is about Mutabilitie (also called Change), who is a daughter of the Titans (the old Greek and Roman gods who came before the new gods of Olympus like Jupiter/Zeus). As a descendent of Titans, Mutabilitie causes havoc on earth with her powers and wants to reign over the other gods in heaven.
Edmund Spenser planned for The Faerie Queene to be 12 books, but he died when only the first six were published. The “Two Cantos of Mutabilitie” were published after his death and seem to be from The Faerie Queene, though questions remain about what Spenser’s original intentions were.
Themes
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
Mutabilitie tries to win favor with various gods but fails. She angers Jupiter so much that he almost has her executed, but at the last minute, he notices how lovely she is. He asks her to give up her foolish claim that she has a right to rule in heaven.
Mutability means the ability to be changed. By arguing that she deserves to rule heaven, Mutabilitie is arguing that change is perhaps the most important and constant thing in the universe.
Themes
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon
Mutabilitie appeals to take her case to Nature on Arlo-Hill. Arlo-Hill used to be an idyllic place where the woods goddess Diana (also sometimes called Cynthia) spent her time. There, the lusty forest god Faunus liked to watch her and her nymphs. One day, Faunus tried to watch them bathing, and Diana punished him by cursing Arlo-Hill, causing it to be overrun by thieves and wolves.
Nature, with changing its seasons and weather, would seem to be closely aligned with Mutabilitie, which is perhaps why Mutabilitie chooses to plead her case with the powerful Nature.
Themes
Virtue, Allegory, and Symbolism Theme Icon
The Role of Women Theme Icon